NOAA Ship Malcolm Baldrige was built by the American Shipbuilding Company in Toledo, Ohio. Commissioned in October 1970, the ship was designed and constructed to conduct oceanographic research. The ship performed a wide variety of physical, chemical, biological, geophysical, meteorological and other marine environmental sensing and sampling operations. Malcolm Baldrige was assigned to conduct oceanographic operations as a scientific platform.
Malcolm Baldrige was the first ship to be outfitted with an upgraded oceanographic system. This system is referred to as the Scientific Computer System (SCS). The SCS consists of two MicroVAX computer systems that are networked to provide both data acquisition and data processing functions. One MicroVAX system is dedicated to acquire, log, and display data in real time and performs real-time data quality assurance functions. The second MicroVAX is dedicated to shipboard scientists for data analysis and direction of their research.
Malcolm Baldridge originally joined the fleet as NOAA Ship Researcher when the U.S. Coastal and Geodetic Survey merged with other agencies. After the former Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldridge passed away from a rodeo accident, the ship was then renamed NOAA Ship Malcolm Baldridge in 1988.